Destination Beyond
by Matt Rowe, MusicTAP
October, 2009

In decades past, a band known as Tangerine Dream created incredible suites of music unveiled as albums, many of which are considered classic to this day. Their innovative and synthesized compositions laid the groundwork for what is now known as ambient music. They left behind Stratosfear, Phaedra, Alpha Centauri, Ricochet, even the fantastic soundtrack to Sorcerer. They explored further the limits of the developing genre further with classic albums like Cyclone, and Force Majeure before becoming too saccharine for die-hard fans' musical ears.

Steve Roach is perhaps the one significant ambient artist that has explored the Tangerine Dream template, modifying along the way to great success. His expanded layering has created a mass of excellent albums, many that can put a finger directly on the pulse of the Tangerine Dream legacy.

His latest Projekt release, DESTINATION BEYOND, is a single composition clocking in at 71+ minutes. It begins softly before developing into a pulsing grand darkness that is eerie yet inviting. It lures you into a complete, uninterrupted span of mental "traveling discoveries" reminiscent of not only Tangerine Dream's Sorcerer, but also of Stratosfear (at points).

Steve Roach has thematically called this album a soundtrack of forward movement. He calls it a "magnetic pull and drive towards the point on the horizon, towards the destination beyond". It becomes an unreachable "point" always "just ahead" therefore always urging forward, much like our lives. The tone of the music consistently grows darker with the hint of others nearby, yet never seen. The urgency grows, the push towards what is at the end relentless yet unrevealing. There is a fearful majesty in the music. But there is also an extended stretch of time where you're gazing into the limitless night skies, contemplating the next unknown path before beginning again. The aural journey of DESTINATION BEYOND is a pure one, quite enjoyable for its generously extended and uninterrupted allotment of time.

If one can find fault with Roach's burgeoning catalogue, it is with the fact that his prolific talents find their expression on too many albums, too quickly. We barely get a chance to absorb one release and he has another in our hands not too much later. This makes it difficult for fans to point to one release (or a number of releases) and deem then classic. We simply don't get the time to "live" with them like we lived with the brilliant Stratosfear. Regardless, Roach can easily transcend the greatness of Tangerine Dream. He has all of the elements within the depths of his compositions. DESTINATION BEYOND could become a memorable classic in the haunting template of Tangerine Dream.

Destination Beyond

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CD  $15.00 
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Destination Beyond
Steve Roach
2009 Projekt PRO235 (CD)
Reviewed by Brainwashed, Electroambient Space, Hypnagogue, MusicTAP, Signal to Noise, Sonic Immersion

Blending the two core aspects of his work, Steve ramps up for the fall of 2009 with the stunningly expansive DESTINATION BEYOND. This all-new release combines immersive atmospheric harmonic zones (like those recently experienced on DYNAMIC STILLNESS) into the setting of spiraling patterns and hypnotic rhythms (similar to those found on ARC OF PASSION). Perfectly blending these two sonic qualities over the course of the continuous 71-minute piece, the flowing soundscapes on DESTINATION BEYOND propel the mood to a mesmerizing state which is unique from any of Steve's pure rhythmless immersive work while achieving a similar sensation that works perfectly in repeat playback mode.

DESTINATION BEYOND pushes electronic music to its highest level, living and breathing in the immediacy in which it was created. The album flows along an organic continuum. Clocked, synced and performed in unison within Steve's desert studio, it showcases his mastery of a life-long devotion to hands-on performance. Utilizing real analog synthesizers with knobs and sliders, a mixing console and real-time processing as an additional instrument results in soundscapes infused with a pure natural flow. It is an artisan approach to sound that is quite rare in today's cut and paste approach to electronic music.

Within an impressive body of work that spans nearly 30 years, certain stylistic forms evolve and reappear as significant signposts, as touchstones for both the listener and the artist. This release clearly draws from the heart and soul of Steve's sonic vision.

DESTINATION BEYOND is infused with breaths of life and forward momentum which draws the listener into a serene sense of physical and mental travel. The sound ebbs and flows in constant movement; the meditation of emotion in the music is a yearning for what is over the next rise. As Steve explains in the liner notes, "When the DESTINATION BEYOND calls the heart must go... The magnetic pull and drive towards the point on the horizon, towards the DESTINATION BEYOND. Never reaching this point -- but always seeing it just ahead -- remains a constant theme and impetus in my life."

1. Destination BeyondMP371:41 

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